The Famous “Husa Knife” of Achang Ethnic Group
The Famous “Husa Knife”
“Achang knife,” which is also known as “Husa knife”, gets its name because it is made mainly in the Husa and Lasa areas of Longchuan County where many Achangs live. This sort of knife is “well-forged and elaborately made, and very sharp, tensile, durable.” Sheaths made of wood, leather, silver and other materials are extremely exquisite, too.
Achang knife varies in length and shape. There are more than ten sorts of knives for their own use. For instance, there are working knife, knife for daily use, long sword for hunting and self-protection, and dagger for butchering domestic animals, and the like. Achangs also make knife for other brother nationalities, such as Tibetan knife and Jingpo knife. Due to its exquisite smithcraft, Achang knife is not only cherished as a national legacy by Achangs, but is also favored by other neighboring ethnic groups like Han, Dai, Jingpo, Tibetan, and Bai. Now, Achang knife has gone out of Yunnan and has been sold to Beijing, Tibet, Sinkiang, and Heilongjiang, etc. Even some foreign friends would like to have an Achang knife for collection.
The Achang ethnic group has an over-six-hundred-year history of making knife and other cutting tools. Tradition says that in an army that stationed in the Husa and Lasa areas in Ming dynasty, there is a branch of men with fairly good smithcraft and they were assigned to the task of making weapons. These men married with the local people and gradually merged into them. The Achang inherited and developed the Ming army’s art of smelting and forging, and came to produce many knives with their national characteristics. What’s more, their techniques have become more exquisite. They have a relatively specific division of labor among villages, and every village has its own products of fame. The whole Husa area is like a factory of handicraft industry, and every village, each known for one product, is a workshop. For instance, Laifu village is known for its long black knife and Hugang knife (decorated steel knife); Mangdong village for broadsword and small pointed knife; Lajie village for saw-toothed sickle; Xin Village for carry-on-back knife; Mangsuo village for sheath. Husa knife is very durable for two reasons: first, it is made of well-chosen materials; second, the Achangs have very fine skills in quenching and hardening steel; in addition, it is carefully and beautifully ground. Because of these virtues, knives made by Achangs can be very sharp just after a little grinding. Some old craftsmen can even make knives that are both firm and flexible, of which some can even be curled up at one’s will. For example, a long sword when not in use can be curled around the waist like a girdle, and when needed it will straight itself. Their handicraft is really admirable.